The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world's populations, bringing forth an upheaval so great that we have ground to a halt a vast number of industries depended upon by a vast number of people resulting to an unimaginable grief and suffering. In a lot of ways, 2020 has not been so kind to so many of us - and that is putting it mildly.

I am a little bit hesitant to look back on the year that was. Reliving all the disruptions throughout the past weeks and months is a depressing exercise but at the same time, I think it is important to partake in it so as to pick out the few good things that has happened, which we can cherish and use to enable us to plow through to the next year's challenges.

The decade's end may not have gone the way I expected it to be but the tragedy certainly became a catalyst for me to be more appreciative of the simple things and have a more harmonious relationship with myself and between me and the people around me, especially my loved ones. My personal takeaways for this year are as follows.

More introspection

The year 2020 helped me to become a more inward-looking individual than ever before. It reiterated the importance of slowing things down, of looking to oneself, of getting lost in my thoughts and coming out with a clear understanding of myself. Through this activity, I am able to focus on the things that are important to me. I surrounded myself with superficial things before, making me lose sight of the essentials and the basics. I have come to realize that stopping to smell the roses isn't just a good idea but is also a crucial undertaking to keep one's sanity and the ego in check.

Frequent communication

Before this pandemic, I hardly ever communicate with my loved ones. When I did, it was to discuss problems, issues and sometimes, unreasonable requests. Quite ironic, if you think about it, since, in this day and age, we are equipped with all the new tools to reach out to billions of people in real-time yet I was unable to utilize it in an effective manner. It took a global tragedy to help me reconnect with the people who matter most to me. Just hearing their voices brings gladness and a relief that throughout all this, I still have these people to talk to.

Letting go

The world is a huge place. In it are billions of people with their own set of unique problems. There's just some things that I cannot change. Dreadful they may be, I cannot influence outcomes, especially in my current capacity.

I have learned to set these worries free. I have wisened up to the fact that to effect meaningful change to society, I have to start in my immediate vicinity, with the people around me. From here, I can only hope that the same people would reciprocate said effect in their own circles.

Gratitude

Being thankful has gotten a whole new meaning for me in this current time. What I have taken for granted before has resurfaced in the most unexpected of ways. The gifts of life, health, family and friendships seemed so cliche to me before 2020, but these have taken the front row seat and will definitely stay that way for good. Truth is, when we realize things can be snuffed out of oneself in an instant, we tend to value them more. I can attest to that.

Beyond

I look forward to the new year with a renewed sense of hope, a more optimistic outlook. I know that we are not out of the woods yet with regards to the pandemic. Some people say that 2021 could be more dire than 2020, considering the recent case numbers and reports of virus mutations. I do not subscribe to this belief. I think things will start to become cheery again, in no time.

To mark this day, I have created a timelapse video showcasing the different sunset scenes over the Kuala Lumpur skyline. I like to think that this symbolizes the start of the end of this whole pandemic.

Cheers and happy new year everyone!